Progression at Churchill – Meet Fern Harris

Fern Harris, the head of business support for our transport division, started working for Churchill in June 2016 as regional administrator for Stuart Cooper – now one of our managing directors – who was operations director at the time.

She said: ‘Churchill had recently acquired the Govia Thameslink Railway contract, totalling almost £5m and I was the first admin support for the rail team. It was a great position to be in, as setting up everything from scratch was exciting.

‘But it was a very challenging time for the new division because we were going through a big management turnover and struggled to find the resources to meet our client Key Performance Indicators. It was a case of all hands on deck but we became a stronger team as a result.

‘After a couple of months I recruited an administrator to support me and the operations team. Six years on, the transport division now has a business support team consisting of five administrators, a business support manager and me. It has 27 management and admin employees in total and it looks after seven transport contracts together worth almost £30m.

‘When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, no one knew how long it would be with us, or how we would manage. Packing up our offices and continuing to provide support to the team and clients from home was extremely challenging.

‘Cleaning became top priority for all, so the pressure was on more than ever. But we all came together to ensure we delivered above and beyond what was required, which made me very proud to be part of such a great team.

‘Churchill has provided me with the career path I have always wanted. When I left school at 17 I decided to go straight to work. I began as an administrator/trainee analyst and from there I moved to become office manager at a small air-conditioning company, which is where I first set up an entire department from scratch.

‘I left after 18 months, as an opportunity came up to work abroad for a short period – how could anyone say no to that, at the age of 21?

‘After moving back to England I took on many other roles, including one as a business development manager in the IT services sector, one as contracts manager for a premier bathrooms company and another as operations and maintenance co-ordinator for Hitachi fleet.

‘In addition, I also did numerous bar and waitressing jobs alongside my full-time positions, as I always needed some extra cash for my busy social life!

‘I always aspired to be the best I could be within my roles and progress wherever possible but, despite my varied job history, I always felt something was missing.

‘The challenges and progression I wanted were just never there, but with Churchill they have been. And, given the way we are growing as business, I cannot see it stopping, so I am very excited to see what the next few years will bring.

‘I would like to say a huge thank you to my business support team for their continued hard work, commitment and dedication to me and the division. Without them, I would not be where I am today.

‘I also look forward to seeing their career paths grow further within Churchill and will support them always.’

Stuart Cooper said: ‘For me personally Fern has always been an achiever and will take on any demanding task head on, she is extremely tenacious and a huge asset to the division and the business alike.

‘Her energy is extremely infectious, as is her desire to strive for perfection, which is one of the many qualities I have always admired about her. She has made a positive impact within the division and deserves to be where she is in her new position as head of business support.

‘She has created an exceptional business support team which underpins the success of the division. The sheer amount of data capture is mind boggling, yet they take this in their stride every day, which again demonstrates Fern’s leadership skills.

‘She has always been an important member of the team and, as the divisional growth continues, I am sure she will rise to the challenges as she has in the past

‘Thank you Fern, from me personally, and also from the wider team.’

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